Gen Y doesn’t know how easy they’ve got it. Young intrepid travelers used to set off on world adventures with little more than their summer savings, a few changes of clothes, a promise to phone home and a well-thumbed guide book. How times have changed. Today’s youth don’t leave home without being wired to the hilt – and that’s just to meet friends at the mall. It seems only logical that Lonely Planet, a 35-year-old guidebook publisher, has just released its City Guide series for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
With the iPhone City Guides, travelers can use the iPhone and iPod's touchscreen technology to scroll through information on cities. With global positioning satellite (GPS), both mobile devices can also pull up content based on where travelers are. Interactive maps can be used to plot locations and plan itineraries.
Information can be personalized to suit travelers' preferences and used to make recommendations. Venues can be marked as favorites and can be searched by keyword. Hopefully, when visiting Paris, travelers can recognize the Eiffel Tower. If not, images from Lonely Planet photographers can help identify it and less-renowned landmarks.
Of course, the electronic nature of the guides means that information on a city’s food, art, history and culture can be easily updated, especially if trying to impress fellow journeymen and women with one's worldly knowledge. The City Guides can also be used offline, so there are no extra charges for international roaming.
"As the needs of our travellers have changed over the last 35 years, we’ve adapted our printed guidebook products accordingly, with new formats, series and destinations,” says Chris Boden, head of wireless and innovation at Lonely Planet.
“We’ve tried to take advantage of the iPhone’s location awareness, vast data storage and simple user interface to re-imagine our city guidebook series to help travelers get to the heart of some of the world’s most exciting cities from the convenience of their hip pocket."
At the moment, there are 20 Lonely Planet City Guides. Among them are London, New York, Melbourne, Barcelona, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, San Francisco, Bangkok, Madrid, Miami, Seoul, Dubai, Berlin, Cape Town, Singapore and Mexico City - with the San Francisco City Guide offered free for a limited time. Guides are available from the iTunes store and retail for USD$15.99 (AUD$18.99).
Lonely Planet launched the iPhone City Guide series following its success with its audio phrasebooks for the iPhone, which are also available from the iTunes Store.
While the electronic versions are lighter and more versatile than the dead-tree versions, there are still many more remote places where the dog-eared paperback travel bible is still essential reading – even for Gen Y.